The Theosophical
Society in Australia

With International Headquarters at Adyar, Chennai, India.

Canberra Group

Meets third Saturday of each month from 2 to 4pm

Coordinator: Gordon Herbert
Secretary: Barbara Harrod
Bulletins: Current and previous Bulletins from the Canberra Group can be viewed at

Meeting place: Friends' Meeting House, 17 Bent Steet, Turner (on the corner of Bent and Condamine Streets)
Meet: 2 - 4 pm 3rd Saturday each month.


2.00pm     Saturday 19 November

Topic: The Three Enlightenments

Presenter: Simon O’Rourke

About the presenter:
Simon O’Rourke has been a member of the Theosophical Society for 30 years with a strong interest in Theosophy and the Secret Doctrine teachings. He is currently the Education Coordinator for the Theosophical Society in Australia and is a former President and Treasurer of the Blavatsky Lodge in Sydney.

About the presentation:
The Ageless Wisdom teaches that a Way or Path requires a number of preparations, or qualifications leading to the perfection of the human being, and the complete transformation of the soul.
Pythagoras called this Metempsychosis.
“Arise, awake.... Sharp as the edge of a razor, hard to traverse, untreadable is this path...” So says the Katha Upanishad.
We will enquire into the stages of the Path and the powers acquired.

2.00pm     Saturday 15 October

Topic: The Vision and the Way: The Theosophical Society and the Future of Humanity

Presenter: Stephen McDonald

About the presenter:
Stephen is the National President of the TS in Australia. He has been an active member of the Theosophical Society since 1976, and was a past President of Blavatsky Lodge in Sydney. He has an enduring interest in the work of J Krishnamurti and Theosophical classics, such as Voice of the Silence and Light on the Path. For many years, Stephen ran a private clinic as a homeopath and later became a lecturer at Torrens University. He holds a Master of Health Science degree from Newcastle University and a post-graduate qualification in teaching.

About the presentation:
In this interactive talk, Stephen will explore the possibilities and potentials for the Theosophical Society in the next 3 - 5 years. Year 2025 will be the 150th year of the founding of the TS. Will we be a floundering organization or can we ensure a future of growth and regeneration? What effect can a small movement such as the TS have on the world? And why does it matter? We will discover some of the answers to these and to other questions in a spirit of enquiry.

2.00pm     Saturday 17 September

Topic: The Enduring Truths of The Ancient Wisdom

Presenter: Gerard Brennan

About the presenter:
I have a long standing interest in Theosophy as an Expression of the Divine Wisdom and have been a member of The Theosophical Society for many years. I am currently the State TS Representative for NSW/ACT and am also the President of the Indo-Pacific Federation of the Theosophical Society. The idea of Universal Brotherhood is something that really interests me and I have also been interested in how to apply Theosophy to Our Daily Lives. Over the years I have had the good fortune to visit our International Headquarters in Adyar, India many times have enjoyed attending many Theosophical Conventions over the years. My professional background has been in teaching literature and history as a high school teacher. It has been a great privilege to be able to visit different TS groups in the NSW/ACT region.

About the presentation:
This talk/presentation will explore the perennial truths of the Ancient Wisdom and how they reflect our true nature and the world around us. Is there really such a large gap between the macrocosm and the microcosm? Are the stars really so distant or do we live in a universe that is intimately connected by a great web of life? While material science may have some of the answers, the great sages have been exploring these ideas for centuries. So come along and see why the Ancient Wisdom, while very old, may indeed be far more immediate than we could ever dream.

2.00pm     Saturday 20 August

Topic: Video of The Holy Grail in the Modern World

Presenter: The Late Dianne Kynaston

About the presenter:
Dianne Kynaston was a long-standing member of the Theosophical Society in Australia and held several administrative positions over the years, including Member of the National Executive Committee and General Secretary of the Australian Section, and served on the editorial committee for Theosophy in Australia. She lectured at lodges around Australia, New Zealand, and the Indo-Pacific region and travelled extensively throughout the world, visiting many sacred places. Dianne’s main interests were Theosophical history, myths and legends from various cultures and the common themes found within them all. Dianne was interested in the role of the Feminine on the Spiritual Path.

About the presentation:
In modern society, seeking the Grail has become synonymous with acquisition – and trophy hunting; it is used blatantly and unapologetically in the media with regard to sport, cinema, business, even food. Searching for the Holy Grail is the great quest and the battle within ourselves - the quest to make the world a better place. It is a story which had its origins in ancient times, up to the present and will continue into the future, with versions of the journey changing according to the times in which we live.

In mythology there was often an object which people tried to acquire, through many trials - for example - the cup of Dyonisian; the Irish cup of healing or the cauldron in Welsh mythology associated with acquiring wisdom. There is the Arthurian story of the Cup of the Last Supper
taken to Glastonbury by Joseph of Arimathea. A version originating in France, told of Mary Magdalene travelling to Saintes Maries de la Mer in the South of France with the Cup of the Last Supper, later the Cup was taken to Mont Ségur, the Cathar stronghold.

In many of these different cultures there was a quest, seeking a sacred object, the Holy Grail.

2.00pm     Saturday 16 July

Topic: Christmas in July

Presenters: Various

About the presenters:

The presenters are long term members of the Theosophical Society in Canberra who will be sharing their experiences and uplifting examples of wisdom that have inspired them.

About the presentation:

Our meeting is a mid-year celebration of theosophy, within the happy togetherness of Christmas in July. Various members will give a short presentation with a theosophical theme, celebrating our group, sharing theosophy and overcoming the cold Canberra winter! We also have an eye towards the rejuvenating spring process about to take place. An open discussion will follow. Please come along and share with us. Events such as this are relaxed, a good way to get to know more about our members and friends.

2.00pm     Saturday 18 June

Topic: What is Reality?

Presenter: Marie McArdle

About the presenter:
Marie joined the Theosophical Society (TS) 30 years ago. She was a member of the executive committee of Blavatsky Lodge in Sydney, including a term as President. She was also a member of the executive committee of the National Section of the TS.

Marie took up meditation and yoga in her late teens, also working as a chemist in the pharmaceutical industry, completing her bachelor of science majoring in applied chemistry.

In her early-twenties she studied naturopathy after experiencing an illness from a trip to China. She was drawn to the TS in an effort to try to understand the many psychic experiences that she had experienced while growing up. After completing her diploma in naturopathy she acquired a diploma in homoeopathy. She then travelled to India, working in a homoeopathic hospital in Kolkata (Calcutta). From there she made her way to the TS headquarters in Adyar, Chennai (Madras). Marie now writes and gives talks about her theosophical research and insights.

About the presentation:

Reality tends to mean different things to different people, but for most of us, because we live in a world of duality, we tend to think of Reality in comparison to an opposite in an effort to differentiate, or define it. So, for instance, we might think of Reality in comparison to Illusion, Fakery, Imagination, etc. However, for the purpose of this talk we will be looking at Reality through the lens of the Upanishads. The Upanishads define Reality as non-dual and therefore it plays no role in the idea of polarity or opposites. We will also be looking at Reality through the lens of some forerunners in the fields of philosophy (ancient and modern), neuroscience, physics (particularly quantum) and computer science. During the talk we will attempt to zoom out to see if we can see an unbroken thread that links these subjects to the Upanishads and its view of Reality - and consider why this might be the case.

2.00pm     Saturday 21 May

Topic: Opening the doors of perception: The Chohan's gaze

Presenter: Jim Cloutman

About the presenter:
First joining the TS at 16, in the early seventies, Jim has an honours degree in comparative religion from King’s College, London University. He is an educationalist by profession, with a Ph.D in adult education. His key interest is in helping learners develop, through education, emotional intelligence and the many emotional attributes that are so badly needed in today’s world, such as resilience, resourcefulness and adaptability.

He has led a college that specialises in educational programs for at-risk groups, including people with disabilities, the unemployed and those recovering from drug and alcohol addiction, as well as juvenile justice and prison inmates. Currently he is working on two education-related projects. One is with the NSW government to develop learning programs in emotional intelligence for adult students. The second is with The Smith Family in relation to school attendance among disadvantaged students.

About the presentation:
Jim has had a fifty-year interest in Theosophy. In this presentation, he will explore the concept of ‘karma’, examining what it is, what it means for you and whether many of the perceptions we have about it are accurate or, rather, based on our inherited understandings about religion and life.

2.00pm     Saturday 23 April

Topic: The Cathars

Presenter: Elayne Strahan

About the presenter:
Elayne Strahan
is a retired Commonwealth public servant with twenty-five years’ experience in social work practice, commonwealth social research, policy development and programme implementation for the Australian government. She has a social policy research Masters from the Australian Demographic Social Research Institute (ADSRI) at the Australian National University (ANU). 

Elayne has always had an interest in esoteric matters and has been involved in the spiritualist movement for forty years not just in Canberra but elsewhere in Australia. She is currently completing private research on the Cathars with the view of making her findings available to a wider audience by publication of a book that she is planning.

About the presentation:
Elayne has always had an interest in esoteric matters. In 2013, she travelled with her sister to Europe to discover more of their family’s ancestry. This included going to the south of France, where they went on a small tour to experience the landscape, and to learn more about the history of the Cathars who had resided there over 800 years ago. The chance observation of a curious statue in an old Cistercian Abbey, located in the Languedoc, gave full flight to their imagination. Why was something that seemed so Christian also something very ‘pagan’, such as an image found in fortune telling cards? Further, why in this abbey and why this location? Since then, Elayne and her sister have been researching these questions and looking at events that occurred in ‘Cathar Country’ all those centuries ago. They believe they have built a unique understanding as to who the Cathars were, what they believed and how they are still with us today.

Key Points for presentation and discussion:

  • Who are the Cathars and how do they feature in history?
  • Separating out Cathar romantic legends and notions of the Languedoc/Provence region from the facts.
  • Traditional Cathar history based on the military interventions and the politics of the Roman Catholic church. The seemingly benign influence of Aristotle.
  • Quick Historical overview of the region from pre-history to Cathar wars, including geography, ancient infrastructure (pagan/Christian) and famous historical figures.
  • What did they believe and why were they labelled a heresy?
  • Cultural and familial ties of the Cathars, including the feudal system and the Troubadours.
  • The aftermath for the Cathars and the start of the Inquisitions.


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